Takeaway at home: Indian Chicken Tikka Masala
Things You Come Across
During a recent holiday to the Greek Island of Crete My wife and I came across the best curry house we have ever been in. As you can imagine the weather in Crete was glorious in mid August, reaching temperatures of around 40 c. So you would think that a curry was going to be the last thig on your mind.
The name of the restaurant was 'The Curry Park' the most unlikely place in the world to find an authentic curry house, Stalis, Crete on the coast of the mediterranean sea. It was so authentic that it even served Cobra beer.
I ordered a rather obvious Chicken Tikka Masala while my wife had an Indian sharing platter. The curry was without a doubt the best curry I had ever eaten in my life, it was a rich red colour and tasted incredible. As you can imagine I tried to get the recipe from the owner / chef but he would not part with it, said it was a family secret, and even thou I tipped him heavily and had a few beers with him, he was not letting go of it. And If Im honest, I didn't expect him to do so either.
We returned the following evening as my wife needed to try this amazing curry, and I needed another taste and another go at getting that recipe. The food was , once again of the highest standard I had ever tried and this time my wife agreed and told me to try and get the recipe as I needed to make this at home.
I failed that night again to get this amazing chef to give up the family recipe, so we thanked him for his food and made our way to a Greek bar.
The Recipe : Almost
As you can imagine, I have been trying to reproduce that amazing chicken Tikka Masala for many months nnow, with some limited sucsess. In the recipe you are about to read I have got it almost perfect ...... Almost !
This recipe will probably change over the coming months, as I try to perfect this amazing recipe. The flavour is about right but I need to work on the texture a bit.
- 1 tsp Ground Fenugreek
- 1 tsp Ground Corriander
- 1tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 4 tsp Hot Curry powder
- 3 Chicken stock Cubes
- 1 Vegetable Stock Cube
- 50 g Soft Brown Sugar
- 140 g Tomato Paste
- 1 tin Chopped Tomatoes (Processed) 350 ml of Tomato Sauce
- 2 Brown Onions (Diced)
- 1 tsp of Garlic
- 150 ml Boiling Water
- 30 ml of Olive Oil
Although I have used a large amount of tomato paste in this recipe (140 g ) or a small tin, the curry is still not red enough to match. So I am going to suggest that we use 1/4 of a tsp of red food colouring (cochineal).
First Things First
Marinade Your Chicken
The think most people forget about this dish is that it is in fact two seperate dishes.
- Chicken Tikka
- Masala Sauce
So you are going to need to make the chicken tikka by marinading your diced chicken in a tikka marinade.
For the Marinade :
- 100 g Plain Yogurt
- 15 ml lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Chopped Garlic
- 1 tsp of ground ginger
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp of Garam masala
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
This mix should be enough to cover at least two chicken breasts, enough to serve two or three people.
Starting with the yogurt mix all of these ingredients together in a large bowl with a fork. Then you can add your cubed chicken breast or thigh to the sauce and get it all fully coated.
Rest it all in the fridge for an hour or two, the longer you leave this the better it is going to taste. I normally make mine the day before and leave it sit overnight.
Mix Your Spices
The next thing that I did was to mix up the Tikka spice, that is the first 8 ingredients all mixed together in a small bowl, then I weighed out the 50 g of soft brown sugar before melting my butter & olive oil in a large pan.
I like my onions soft, so I cook them for a long time on a low heat. This can take anything upto 15 minutes. While those onions are cooking they are going to start to smell delicious. It is always a good idea to mix these up with a wooden spoon while they are cooking.
You can add all of the brown sugar at this point to get those onions coated, mix it all up with the wooden spoon so that it starts to look like a sweet, sticky caramel. The longer you leave this cook the better it will taste.
After this has been cooking for a while it is that time, the time that all of this starts to smell like an Indian curry house. Tip the Tikka powder mix into the pan and mix the lot together with your spoon. You will be able to smell those spices cooking and flavouring the onions, this should all mix into a dark brown sticky sauce, oozing flavour........
Let it cook for a while ... Let the flavours combine .... Let the smell fill your kitchen.
Once this paste has been cooking for a while you can get it topped up with the 350ml of tomato sauce, 50 ml of the tomato paste and the 150 ml of water. You are going to need to get a whisk for this stage.
Whisk in the water to form a thin sauce & combine all of the ingredients.
Get the rest of the tomato paste into the pan and again whisk this in thoroughly. You should find that the sauce is much thicker now, if it is too thick for you then you can always add a bit more water.
In the rest of this recipe I am going to use Chicken breast but it would be better to use thigh. The Chef in Crete used chicken thigh and I'm pretty sure he marinaded it in tikka spices just like we did earlier on.
With your ChickenTikka sauce made up all that is left to do is get it cooked. Obviously you are going to want some other bits and pieces, not least some beer (Cobra) to go with this. I like a nice Yogurt & Mint Dip and some samosa or Onion Bhaji ... Or Both.
If you are going to skewer and cook the chicken in the oven then now is the time to do it. Skewer about 10 pieces of marinaded chicken on each stick then cook in a pre heated oven at 180 c for about 20 minutes, that should do it.
All that is left to do now is to heat up the Masala sauce, remove the cooked chicken pieces from the skewer and mix them into the sauce.
Ready to serve ....
Lets Be Clear :
The Chef in The Curry Park would have probably put this together in the pan, made the sauce as the chicken cooked . But this is about me getting an authentic style and taste and it is about making it easy for you guys to replicate this.
So give it a go and keep watching this space for updates to the recipe as I continue to improve the texture of this most glorious curry.
Thanks 'The Curry Park, Stalis, Crete.'
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